The environmental cost of data centers is on the rise, with energy topping the list of concerns. While these centers provide massive amounts of digital storage and grow compute power for businesses and consumers, the operational costs of these centers aren’t only measured in dollars.
Hidden Costs of Digital Technologies
Newer data centers consume a fraction of the amount of energy and other resources to run, but older centers face the challenge of delivering similar levels of service at a much higher run rate. The capital cost of new centers is staggering with an estimated $20 billion annual price tag, but the continuing energy consumption of older centers is an even greater challenge. Currently, data centers use 3 percent of the global electricity supply and pollute as much as all airlines combined. Stack that energy usage next to data needs doubling every two years and you can see the cliff approaching in the near future.
Light the World with Simple Searches
It’s easy to ignore the ecological impact of digital technologies, especially since these technologies rarely make it to the forefront. Instead of producing products, these systems run production. They are the invisible helper behind everything from hailing a cab to manufacturing a bar of soap. And, older data centers are anything but green. Google estimated that a single search used as much electricity as a 60-watt bulb for 17 seconds. That might not seem like much until you realize that this search engine process 1.2 trillion requests each year.
Simply storing and accessing data eats a lot of power, but that problem is compounded by the fact that it can cost as much to cool these systems as it does to run them.
Overcoming Energy Issues
Turning older data centers into energy efficient operations depends on two factors:
- Energy efficiency
- Renewable resources
For new centers, this has driven construction in areas where renewable energy or alternative cooling solutions are readily accessible like Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. For older centers, the location is already set, but that doesn’t mean energy usage must remain static. Older data centers can retrofit their existing systems with modern techniques for cooling and balancing energy usage. The Federal Energy Management Program demonstrated the viability of this option with a 31 percent drop in PUE.
Start with Modular Cooling
At Aligned, we target the cooling end of the power problem. Since cooling can cost as much as operations, we focus on providing a system that helps you keep temperatures optimal without draining local water supplies or spiking the electric grid. Our industry-leading PUE helps reduce costs and drives toward the goal of energy-efficient operations. Plus, keeping water use low (our system uses 1/10 the water of historical data centers) tackles the next environmental issue looming for data centers. Update existing centers for the future using modular cooling at the point of heat and see a reduction in continued energy costs. It’s a win for everyone.